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Routine Use of Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin For Deep Venous Thrombosis Prophylaxis After Foot and Ankle Surgery: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

      Abstract

      The purpose of the present study was to determine whether certain foot/ankle surgeries would benefit from the routine use of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) as postoperative deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis. We conducted a formal cost-effectiveness analysis using a decision analytic tree to explore the healthcare costs and health outcomes associated with a scenario of no prophylaxis and a scenario of routine LMWH prophylaxis for 4 weeks. The 2 scenarios were compared for 5 procedures: (1) Achilles tendon repair (ATR), (2) total ankle arthroplasty (TAA), (3) hallux valgus surgery (HVS), (4) hindfoot arthrodesis (HA), and (5) ankle fracture surgery (AFS). The outcomes assessed included short- and long-term costs, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost per QALY gained. The costs were evaluated from the healthcare system perspective and are expressed in U.S. dollars at a 2015 price base. In the short term, routine prophylaxis was always associated with greater costs compared with no prophylaxis. For ATR, TAA, HA, and AFS, prophylaxis was associated with slightly better health outcomes; however, the gain in QALYs was minimal compared with the cost of prophylaxis (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio well above $50,000/QALY threshold). For HVS, prophylaxis was associated with both worse health outcomes and greater costs. In the long term, routine prophylaxis was always associated with worse health outcomes and either cost more (HA, AFS, HVS) or saved very little (ATR, TAA). We concluded that policies encouraging the routine use of LMWH after foot/ankle surgery are unlikely to be cost-effective. Decisions to perform prophylaxis should be on a case-by-case basis and should emphasize individual patient risk factors.

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